Over the course of my life, I have written many to-do lists. They are straightforward and easy to use while trying to keep track of my day to day life. Despite being one of the simplest forms of organization, I have never completed one.
That’s right, I cannot remember a single time I have finished everything on a to-do list. As technology and my work have grown, my to-do lists have become more sophisticated, but not more complex. I now keep my to-do list with my notes, calendar, and inbox in one tab. This type of consolidation has made my life a lot easier, but it has not made an impact on my inability to fulfill the tasks I give myself every day.
However, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I’ve stopped seeing to-do lists as an index of everything that absolutely must happen within a given day and more of a constantly growing and changing record. My to-do list is never complete because I’m always adding new tasks to it, often ones that come from wrapping others up. For example, I sent out an email today, which is something I was able to check off of my list. When the person who received the email responded to me, they gave/asked me to work on another task for them, therefore adding another job to my list.
It has taken me a while to come to this perspective. I used to be very hard on myself when I wouldn’t realize the full extent of these lists. Soon enough, I realized that I was still accomplishing a lot even though I wasn’t finishing the list. It’s good to remember that we will never see every dream we have ever had actualized, but we can sure see a hell of a lot of them come true. This principle applies to the smallest levels, even to-do lists.